The Mental Health Association in Tulsa is totally sold out to the concept of "housing first." First coined by Sam Tsemberis in New York, the strategy of ending homeless in America through the adoption of "housing first" approaches is now accepted as THE best practice in moving people from homelessness into stable living. But what are the factors that keep them housed and stable? What are the factors that help them become interwoven into the fabric of the community? Mental and physical health care? Sobriety? Good nutrition and good dental care? Integrated case management services and support? Spiritual care? Yes, yes, yes...to all of the above. Without housing, none of those things will work and money is wasted. We have learned from experience all of the listed items are critical factors in a transition to housing stability. Still, it is remains my contention that the second critical factor after housing first, is job second.
We are made by God to feel and be productive. We need to work and we need to be compensated. We need to be able to go home tired. We need to believe employment opportunities provide hope for the future, for personal sustainability, and a place to belong and to be appreciated. Employment feeds growth in self-esteem. It enhances dignity. Work IS therapy! Our friends at Crossroads and Goodwill clearly have understood this for many years. Above is pictured members of our property maintenance work crews that go out to mow, trim, and care for the appearance of our properties and for the properties of others. Take a close look at their faces. See if you can see satisfaction, sweat, diversity, esprit de corps, and friendship. Believe me, its there and more. Housing first, job second.